Freddy Maertens Photo Gallery
Freddy Maertens is one of the finest bicycle racers to have ever turned a crank. He remains the only male pro racer to have won 54 road races in a single year. Some argue Eddy Merckx has, but that is only buy adding in three track races.
Freddy Maertens’ career consisted of two great arcs. The first began with a wildly successful time as a junior and amateur racer in Belgium’s province of West Flanders. As a junior in 1970 he won 42 races and in 1972 he won 28 amateur races before turning pro.
From there he kept getting better and in 1976 he became Belgian and World Champion, won the Tour de France green jersey, the Tour of Switzerland, Gent - Wevelgem and a host of other important races. He sustained that incredible streak in 1977 by winning Het Volk, Paris-Nice, Vuelta a España and was possibly headed for victory in the Giro d’Italia (he’d already won seven stages) when he crashed badly and broke his wrist. The next year race wins didn’t come as easily, though he did again win the Tour de France green jersey.
After 1977 there were no major wins until 1981 when he again became World Champion and won the Tour de France green jersey. After that, he ceased winning the big ones and rode on smaller teams until his retirement in 1987.
These seemingly inexplicable crests generated intense press speculation. It was said that Maertens had ruined himself with drugs or big gears. Maertens’ own explanations are far less ominous. To make Maertens’ life more miserable, he placed his trust others who lost all his money and he got into terrible trouble with the Belgian tax authorities. Bad luck followed this gifted athlete like a lost dog looking for a home.
Today Freddy Maertens works at the Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderen museum in Oudenaarde, Belgium.
I was lucky enougn to spend an afternoon with Mr. Maertens in 2011 and found him to one of the kindest, friendliest men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Extraordinary success and heartbreaking failure have not effaced his innner charm.
The list of Maertens victories is very long, but here are the important ones. Not included are the many Grand Tour stage victories Maertens accumulated
1969 (Junior): 22 victories including Champion of Flanders
1970: (Junior): 42 victories including Champion of West Flanders
1971 (Amateur): 22 victories including Champion of Belgium, 2nd at World's
1972 (Amateur) 29 victories before turning professional
1973: 4 Days of Dunkirk
1974: Tour de Luxembourg, Vuelta a Andalucia, Championship of Flanders
1975: Paris-Tours, Paris-Brissels, Gent Wevelgem, Tour of Belgium, Vuelta a Andalucia, Four Days of Dunkirk
1976: Professional World Road Race Championship, Belgian Professional ROad Race Championship, Amstel Gold, Rund und den Heninger Turm, Züri-Metzgete, Gent Wevelgem, Grand Prix des Nations, Four Days of Dunkirk, Brabantse Pijl, Championship of FLanders, Trofeo Baracchi (partnered with Michel Pollentier), Criterium de As, Tour de France Points Classification
1977: Vuelta A España, Paris-Nice, Omloop Het Volk, Catalonian Week, Trofeo Laiguelglia, Giro di Sardegna, Tour of Catalonia
1978: Omloop Het Volk, Four Days of Dunkirk, E3, Tour du Haut Var, Tour de France Points Classification
1981: Professional World Road Race Championships, Tour de France Points and Intermediate Points Classifications
- 1972: Beaulieu
- 1973 - 1979: Flandria with different co-sponsors
- 1980: San Giacomo-Benotto
- 1981 - 1982: Boule d'Or
- 1983: Masta-Concorde
- 1984: AVD-Viditel-DeVries Lotto
- 1985: Niko-Van Schilt-Elro until late March, then starting in May: Euro Soap-Crack
- 1986: Robland-Lac Claire Fontaine-Salvi-Galli
- 1987: Robland-Isoglass-Galli-All Sprint-Assos
Nickname: The Ogre
Freddy Maertens (center) with writer Les Woondland (left) and me, Chairman Bill in 2011
Maertens time trial wearing yellow during stage 3 of the 1976 Tour de France
In 1976 Maertens was Belgian Road Race Champion as well as World Champion. Photo courtesey Flandria Bikes.
Maertens wins 1975 Gent-Wevelgem
Flandria poster featuring Maertens after he won the 1976 World Championships
Freddy Maertens trading card
Maertens follows Francesco Moser in miserable weather during the 1977 Giro d'Italia
Maertens winning again in undated photo. I think it would have to be after 1980 because he's riding a Colnago.
Maertens in his 1981-82 colors when he rode for Boule d'Or
Maertens racing on cobbles with Roger de Vlaeminck (Brooklyn) and Eddy Merckx (Fiat).
Freddy Maertens set to begin his time trial at the 1982 Tirreno-Adriatico
And he's off
The cover of Maertens' book, "Fall From Grace".
Maertens at the Tour of Flanders in 2003 with winner Peter van Petegem
Freddy Maertens at the window of the Centrum Ronde Van Vlaanderen museum in Oudenaarde, Belgium, where he works.